Welcome, friends! Come in, and let me tell you a Story A Day, all May long…
In June and July, I’ll be drafting two new Kifo Island novels. I know something about 5 of the 6 point of view characters, and I’ve got a sketchy idea of the plots – but I need to learn more about these people and their stories.
So, in May, I explore. Every day, I’ll follow the prompts in A Month of Writing Prompts 2016. I’ll play while moving through my planning efforts. Some of these stories may become part of the eventual novels, but my goal is to invite these characters to show me who they are and what they want – and how their lives fit together to make a novel.
I’ve been writing my story each day, but I slipped behind in my posting. I’m hoping to catch up by the 20th, and finish the month out on time.
I continue with May 9, following the daily prompt, “A story with an Ugly Duckling structure.”
Zeke Carstairs is a man with three problems: the four drunks who comprise his audience; the stage manager who calls him Unfunny Man; and his own mind…
Week Two’s theme is: Elements of Story.
Warning: This story contains suggestiveness and is rated PG-13.
“Better Get A Laugh”
Zeke Carstairs stared out at the audience – four middle-aged men.
None of them were looking back at him. They were all busy with their booze. Everyone had their own type of self-medication. They sure as hell weren’t laughing. The only laughter was coming from the god-voice.
“I told you. You’re failing. You always fail. I made you to fail. You can’t do anything else.”
He wanted to ignore the god-voice, but he couldn’t. Maybe with the pills, but not any other way. And he was sure the pills were meant to get him under control. The doctors had even said so, hadn’t they? “This medication will get your symptoms under control, Mr. Carstairs, so that you can begin to lead a more normal life.” He didn’t know who was supposed to control him. The doctors never told him that. Why would they? They were in on it. Zeke was sure of that. It was a conspiracy to make him normal. Or more normal, at least.
They all wanted that. Normalcy. Like it was Everest, or a million dollars, or something. Two point five kids. A nine to five job. House in the suburbs, complete with a picket fence and a Stepford wife –
Oh, damn. He’d said that aloud, and now the club manager was watching, and nodding along, thinking it was the setup for a joke. Why didn’t he ever seem to know what was going to come out of his mouth next?
Right. Schizophrenia. That’s what the doctors said he had. Why he heard the god-voice, and the others, and couldn’t ignore them. Why he said things aloud when he thought he was just thinking them. Why he didn’t trust their desire for him to be normal or their medicines that were supposed to make him that way, change him from what he was, like he wasn’t good enough.
“If you don’t get a laugh tonight, Unfunny Man, I’m pulling the plug on this show.” It was a hiss; like a venomous snake. Zeke shivered, feeling it through his entire body, wanting suddenly to vomit.
How was he supposed to get a laugh out of four drunks?
What was he going to do, if this show got canceled? This was the only comedy club that would still hire him in all of the Underbelly.
He was stammering his way to something else the drunks would ignore when the door opened. Zeke realized his mouth was hanging open, and made himself close it. She was stunning; he wanted to get lost in her and never come back out –
He wanted to make her laugh.
“Ah, there’s my guardian angel, come to save me from bad jokes and drunks!”
A throaty laugh came from the woman as she sashayed her way to the empty table right up front. She was wearing a long black cocktail gown, cut tantalizingly low up front, and slit nearly to her thigh on the side, giving a view of a long, shapely leg.
Zeke swallowed as his bloodflow started to shift in his tight jeans. He wanted to touch himself, but he couldn’t do it here. He could feel the stage manager’s breath on his neck even though he was waiting in the wings.
That’s all right. “This is a little present just for you,” said the friend-voice. “Now be as funny as we all know you are. If you make her laugh, she’s going to make it worth your while.”
Zeke pulled himself up like an ugly duckling who’d grown instantly into a proud and graceful swan. He was a funny man, as long as there was someone to laugh and appreciate his humor.
He imagined himself as a cob swan, stretching his lovely neck, flapping his wings, gliding across the water. He played only to her, and she rewarded him with her husky laugh, her eyes moving up and down his body, coming again and again to the place where he bulged out against his fly.
When he glanced over, the stage manager was laughing, too. Who cared about the drunks? They wouldn’t be lost in their booze if they had any sense of humor, would they?
Zeke put them out of his mind; put the stage manager beside them. He played for her, and no one else. For that throaty laugh, and the way she tipped her head back each time. For the sparkle in her eyes, and the way they kept going back to his bulge, her lips parting.
He was the swan cob, and he was going to have her.